OTAs mark the start of “Phase 3″ in the nine-week offseason workout program, and teams are allowed to do 7-on-7s, 9-on-9s and 11-on-11s for the first time after weeks of more mundane position drills and agility and conditioning work.
“I’m just trying to show how I improve every day,” Battle said. “Just trying to get better as the days go by, whether that’s studying at home or studying coming into the meeting rooms and paying attention, doing what I can do to further my game, you know, get better at my game and improve every step of the way.”
Battle received his first-team reps in part because safety Nick Scott is being held back in OTAs because of his recovery from a shoulder injury he suffered in early January, which ended his season with the L.A. Rams ahead of the Week 18 finale.
Scott, who signed as a free agent in March, has been participating in the offseason program throughout, but said Tuesday he is under some limitations just as a precaution as he eases back into a more intense workload. The fifth-year defensive back said he’s been impressed so far by Battle, who the Bengals drafted in the third round.
“Just really impressed with his ability to understand the playbook and pick up concepts and everything like that, so that’s a great sign,” Scott said. “Obviously, you see his frame and how physical he can be, he moves well, so I’m excited about him. I think he is a guy that will be able to help this team in a lot of different ways, whether that be special teams or defense.”
Battle said he hasn’t quite had his “welcome to the NFL” or “ah-ha” moment yet, but being tasked with carrying the veterans helmets was a reminder of where he stands — though he called it a fun milestone as his “first rookie duty ever.”
The former Alabama safety said he knows he will make mistakes, but for now he’s enjoying the transition with his new team.
“It’s just Day 2 with the helmets on, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have many ‘ah-ha’ moments as the days go by, but every day has been exciting,” Battle said. “And every day has been fun getting to know these guys, getting to learn from these guys, you know, getting to move around with them. So, I look forward to the future.”
Although Scott is not participating in the 7-on-7s yet, which the Bengals did some of Tuesday, he could feel the excitement of the team getting to do more game-like activities. Neither the offense or the defense looked completely smooth Tuesday, but the practice had more pace to it and appeared productive.
The Bengals had almost everyone on the practice fields Tuesday except wide receiver Tyler Boyd, offensive tackles Jonah Williams and Devin Cochran and defensive tackle DJ Reader. La’el Collins, still rehabbing his knee, was not dressed but watched his offensive line group go through drills, and Reader was in the locker room after practice, appearing to walk in from the trainers’ room when media was present.
Cincinnati will hold a mandatory minicamp next week, but OTAs continue on a voluntary basis this week.
“Not much has changed for me, because they’re still kind of holding me back with my shoulder and things, but you know, we’re starting to do 7-on-7, so guys are getting the opportunity to move fast and actually break off the ball and everything like that,” Scott said. “So it’s exciting, you know, everybody’s heart rate goes up a little bit more because we’re getting an opportunity to do part of what we love. So, I’ve been extremely happy and impressed with not only the team, but the young guys, including JB (Jordan Battle), especially with how fast they’ve been able to pick things up and it just looks smooth.”
Battle said he has spent a lot of extra time in the playbook and studying film to make sure he’s well-prepared and understanding the system so he can play fast. He’s hoping to get the most out of the offseason workout program so he is ready to compete for more opportunities in training camp.
“You can never be too comfortable,” he said. “Just always improving every day, trying to see what I can do to build my confidence whenever I’m on the field or in the meeting room asking questions. Just getting everything down and trying to take what up what I learned in the meeting room to the field.”